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Lyndhurst Talc mine (24 June 2012)

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LYNDHURST TALC MINE

Loosely speaking, she was my cousin. It's too complicated to go into but she's a blood relative, that's established. To begin with, I agreed to allow her to cut exactly one foot off the length of my hair. Twelve inches no more was what we agreed upon. She persuaded me during the days I spent in Adelaide, between Christmas and New Year that it was going to be too hot at the mine to operate a jackhammer all day in the sun with hair down past my bum. She was assisted by having kindly cow eyes and sweetly plaintive tone, and by it reaching thirty-seven degrees Celcius at the time.

We went into in a small narrow bathroom at the rear of the house which had a long, wooden rear window wide open to the backyard, the paint peeling off its frame in great curls like dried gum leaves. The bathroom contained an old bath on legs in which you stood to have one of the most unpleasant showers you could imagine: at the window end of the bath was fixed an antiquated hot water service comprising a long, cylindrical tank from which several pipes emerged in which flowed either gas or water, hot or cold, controlled by sundry taps and valves all necessary during the starting up of the contraption to be opened and closed at the correct time which on the one hand was undoubtedly to achieve a hot shower but which on the other hand seemed important to ensure the whole thing did not explode.

I would always get in worrying. After undressing upon a bath mat I would hold a rolled-up newspaper between my knees and light the end with matches. Stepping into the bath I'd turn on the gas and shove the flaming paper in the flu; a loud WOOF! and the the pilot caught. The groaning and banging at first would seem pointless: nothing would happen, no water would emerge. I would stand there naked, shivering, expecting something bad to happen with each shudder. Finally the broad shower rose above my head would begin to cough like a kitten with fur-balls. Big drops would start to fall; I could feel each one.

All that remained to complete the preparation for the shower was to turn and draw the curtain: hanging on clear plastic hooks from a rail above the edge of the bath was a sheet of plastic so ancient and melancholy you would pull it across slowly and apprehensively, fearing it would tear like a mummy's skin.

After cutting my hair she lay it down next to a foot ruler to prove she had kept her word not to cut an inch more. The hair she left behind still fell upon my shoulders. I tied it back into a pony-tail. It didn't survive the first day of work at the mine.

MAKING MONEY

More than a hundred sunbeams streamed through holes in the corrugated iron. Men who'd been drinking beer all day and night had celebrated their freedom from care by attacked the shower block with axes. The day after they demolished it, they rebuilt it.

Rod came to me excited, and told me I ought to take a look at a man we called the fixer guy, who was having a shower. I went and peered through one of the holes. It had seemed OK to do, under the circumstances. Standing in the middle of the shiny clay floor, water streaming down over him, was what looked like a porcelain man. His torso and shoulders, upper arms, and upper thighs were as white as a toilet bowl. Wet, with the sun on them, they glowed. In contrast, his head and neck and the rest of his limbs were brown, a deep milk-chocolate brown. I squinted which made the dark bits of him disappear, leaving just the white bits, which made him look like a decapitated ginger-bread man, except made of white chocolate.

This is a man who likes his shorts and work shirt.

We learned he was a mysterious farm and mine contractor, a jack of all trades who could fix everything and build anything, including fences and sheds; and he would even erect and connect a mile of telegraph poles. He could practically name his own price yet there was a yearlong wait to get him. Later, when we got bogged, he towed us out. We didn't send for him. He just appeared. And in doing the job he never said a single word. He could talk though: he would yell "ear!", to his dog. Twice I heard him do that. The only time I ever heard him say anything, directly, to another human being, while looking them square in the face, was when he spoke to me: "You talk too much." he said.

Another time I was standing nearby him, holding a barbequed sausage in my right hand. It was rolled up in a piece of buttered bread and my mouth was open and it was about to go in, all of it, sausage, sauce, onions, bread and butter, when I noticed he was about to speak. He was looking up at a sky, which was always perfectly bue and clear, except for this one time. There was one cloud in the sky. It was the size of a pea.

"It's going to rain" he said.

The rain began to fall in the middle of that night and it kept raining for a week. After the rain came, everything changed. The tan-coloured dust was replaced by a slightly darker coloured mud and the dry heat was replaced by a wet heat. The quarries began to fill with water. No work could be done apart from the job of pre-mixing explosive, which was done inside a small hut that had walls made of sandstone blocks and a roof made of corrugated iron. Dry plastic explosive was beads that were somewhat like the polystyrene spheres that fill a bean-bag. Except they were smaller and more dangerous. It was kept stacked against the walls in small cute-looking cement bags. Just pour a quantity of beads into an even cuter minature cement-mixer, add petrol, mix for two minutes and pour the mixture into an empty bag of the same small size. Then stack neatly against the wall with the other two hundred-odd bags that someone else had pre-mixed. Oh, and please ignore the warning on the bag which states that the contents ought not to be mixed with petrol more than two of hours before use, owing to the propensity of pre-mixed explosive, when mature, to go off. I did my work in that place and as I did I wondered if we might be blown up. That thought was soon replaced by curious speculation as to how large the hole would be.

One of the quarries contained a small tractor, a 'John Deer'. With it was an air compressor to pressurise the jack-picks with which we broke up the talc rock. The quarry was filling up with water so it was decided I should go down and tow one of the compressors out. I started the tractor and manoeuvred it in front of the compressor, to which I attached it. I got back into the John Deer and carefully drove forward. I was towing the compressor along a narrow dirt road which traversed a small lake of muddy rainwater and which looked like a wet banana paddle-pop. I felt a slight but suspect sideways movement and then everything began to slide slowly left. There was nothing I could do. I stepped off without thinking and watched everything disappear into the brown water, leaving me alone in the rain as if nothing else had ever been there .

Rod came in and said he had seen my uncle Jack being held down on the ground by a small angry man who had his hands around Jack's neck so tightly that his eyes were bulging so far out of his head Rod thought they would pop out, "And the guy was banging your uncle's head on the concrete kitchen step, if it was your uncle". It would have been him, I said, adding that I hadn't known him long; my aunty had found him out here and had married him. The following morning he visited us at the talc pile, driving up in his old utility. He got out and took his right hand off the longneck he was always holding, to wave at us his long crooked and black index finger. It matched his nose, and his voice. Just a few croaks and a smile and before long you knew he was a bastard. Nevertheless, you couldn't help thinking he might be good company, good to share a few beers with. It was hard not to think of beer when looking at Jack. He wouldn't mellow though. He was rude, with the eyes of a toad and the brain of a weasel. His voice sounded both soft and hard, like it had been cured with whisky. It was ear-candy as long as you didn't understand what he was saying.

MUNDANITY

There were two deep sinks side by side, one filled with hot soapy water, the other filled with hot clear water, and lastly, a giant dish-rack mounted on the wall. The men filed up to the sinks with their plates and swabbed them in the soapy water and rinsed them in the clear water and then placed them in the rack to dry.

Every day we ate roast beef, roast lamb, or roast chicken, plus roast carrots, roast potatoes, and gravy. One plateful for lunch, two platefuls for dinner plus two servings of trifle for dessert, and scones and jam and cream for morning and afternoon tea. I drank six longnecks of Southwark beer each evening. Breakfast was bacon and eggs, porridge and toast, and tea.

In six weeks I lost ten kilos.

At six o'clock in the morning the cook rang the bell to wake us for breakfast. After breakfast I headed for the truck, got in, rattled the gear stick, and turned the ignition key, by which time I was already perspiring. The engine fired and the truck began to rock in time with the engine's throbbing. Rod climbed in. He looked out at the road ahead and didn't say anything - he never did at that time of the morning. His hair looked terrible, still not revovered from my drunken haircut. It didn't matter - as far as we could tell, there was not a single mirror in the camp.

I banged my left foot down on the heavy metal clutch pedal and felt the springy resistance and then the release as it disengaged. I shook the long loose gear stick again and yanked it back into first gear. The cabin was open but hot without air flow. Time to go to work. I leaned on the gas pedal and let out the clutch and we were off.

The air flowed into the cabin and the truck bumped and growled. I shifted into second and then third and took each corner too roughly, but the air cooled my skin and the bumping and sliding shook the gunk out of my brain and the clay out of my muscles.

The International Harvest truck had no special personality. It was a pair of wheels connected to a drive train, controlled by my feet and hands. A mechanical rhinocerus. Driving it could be fun.

It got to Fifty-three degrees in the shade. Forty-three degrees is oven hot. Fifty-three could broil your brain if you thought about it. We didn't think about it. We thought about how much money we would make every time we threw a big lump of talc into a skip. We didn't like rubble. A huge boulder would have me salivating. I would attack it and watch its big segments sliding apart once the end of the hydrallic pick had done its dissecting.

I threw myself at the heaviest slabs and could flip, grab, and then hoik them all into a skip without too much trouble. It was necessary to work smart to keep from being sliced by an edge. And conserve energy by not looking when you don't need to - throw and listen for the clunk.

Rod and I broke the washing machine, a crime for which Jack wouldn't forgive us- he held it against us, but then he thrived on grudges. A beer and a grudge and Jack was at peace. It was a furfie anyway - the machine broke itself as far as I could tell. It was a piece of junk before we filled with our dirty clothes and added plenty of detergent and turned it on to wash. A few groans and a shudder and then 'CLUNK'. Dead.

"You overloaded it, that's all. Just dumb, you two."

It didn't break my heart. Clothes could be worn in the communal shower and washed that way, and drying was no problem.

Out of that we scored the gabage detail. Sunday after lunch we carted and emptied the week's garbage. Maggots the size of witchety grubs and a stench to make you swoon.

I deserved a few more bottles that's all. They all went on to the tab.

OUR COOK'S DEMISE

It would have been a pathetically one-sided arm-wrestle: Ray against himself. He had the keys to the cool-room and it was his job to open and personally hand over cool bottles of beer to each man according to his allotted daily ration, by which time Roy had already spent most of the day in a stinking hot kitchen cooking roast lamb, roast beef, and bread and butter pudding.

He held out a little longer than we expected. Nobody made an announcement - one Sunday lunch there were maggots in the steaks that were waiting to be barbequed. A search of the coolroom revealed the hideous extent of his capitulation.

The least unpalatable dish found comprised two fried eggs glued to a tin plate. I hammered a nail through it into a pine beam within the mess hall where it remained on display. Beneath the plate we penned the words "Ray's Reminder" to discourage dissatisfied patrons from complaining about Rod and my cooking since we'd been seconded into the now vacant position of cook.

Two nights before the maggotty steaks we'd been given a clue, the significance of which we would've got if we had a clue. It was about 10 pm and Rod was lying on his bunk looking at the ceiling, calculating how much money we had made and thereby how many more hours we needed to stay there. I was sitting on the edge of my bunk reading Catch 22. Our door was closed but through its window we could see there were stars in the sky outside where no one was making any noise. We both heard two knocks, which were strange because they came from the bottom third of the door. We both looked up; there was no one at the door. Two more knocks, again from the bottom of the door. Rod got up from his bunk and must have been slightly unnerved because instead of opening the door he looked down through its window. He came back and said that Ray was just outside on his hands and knees, holding up a small bottle of vanilla essence. That was the clue. Had we used our brains we could have saved everyone some serious nervous dyspepsia.

It flashed into my mind when we were confronted by the maggots and the horrible coolroom discovery. It wouldn't have been so bad if they'd been discovered a lot earlier. Nobody spoke for the rest of that day.

We got the official news about Roy when we were asked to do the cooking by the mine manager. The manager was a short ineffectual-looking man of about sixty. He was pale for that part of Australia and always wore a Safari suit. He put his arms around our backs to prepare us for a shock, like we were his children and had to tell us that the tooth fairy doesn't exist. He was so dreadfully sorry to have to tell us, but Roy, the cook, has a drinking problem and it seems to have gotten the better of him.

The manager made us nervous because Jack had told us how he'd gone loco and for long periods he would stay holed up in his house where he'd grown a crop of marijuana which he'd sample every day; and one night he lost his mind and shot holes in the ceiling with one of his revolvers. He collected weapons.

Things had been strained between the two men since Jack had carelessly (he said accidentally) demolished the projection room which until its sudden destruction had been the manager's pet project. Jack was away when the manager had gotten the popular idea to have a movie night each Saturday night. He'd supervised the building of a projection room on the end of the mess hall, which unfortunately projected two feet into the roadway on which Jack had been driving a heavy truck when returning to camp in the middle of the night after driving eighty miles from the Lyndhust rail-head where he had enjoyed the hospitality of the proprietor of the largest hotel in Australia made entirely of corrugated iron.

"It wasn't bloody there when I left!" Jack said, quite correctly.

The manager had opened the venue a few nights earlier: "Please shut up all of you." he had announced. 'Billy Jack' was his favourite movie and we didn't mind watching it every Saturday night for the three weeks of the movie house's existence. We would stretch out tin chairs up the back of the darkened hall and drink bottle after bottle of Southwark beer, the movie's light flickering and the rachetty sound of the projector coming though its hole in the wall.

It was fortunate we weren't staggering across the dirt road coming out of the hall after the movie when Jack's truck tore into camp. It didn't wake me when it happened; I only found out about when I went to breakfast and noticed the projection room had gone.

Knowing Jack, I thought his stories about the manager were suspect until the day I got a personal demonstration in the tractor maintenance and repair shed of how to fight with nunchuks, which was mercifully abbreviated by his smacking himself in the face with one of the shiny black sticks. I never saw the manager again. We were working in the mine when the police took him away.

CONTEMPLATION

There is just me and my bottle. Maybe only me. The universe has shrunk. Someone has a radio. I don't hear it; I'm told it exists. Everyone else is resting inside, sitting or lying on their bunks, but what's the point of that. Outside is better than inside at this time of the day. The heat from my body drifts away into the aether instead of broiling me inside a stone cubicle. Underneath my feet the dirt is ochre and the ground mainly firm and more or less even; above my head the sky is deepening blue and already Venus is out. I am sitting on a bunk which is nothing but cyclone fencing wire suspended in a metal frame. It is as comfortable to me as a judge's leather lounge, the contents of my bottle as kind as old Tokay. Ahead of me, where I'm looking, is a dirt road where a grey truck is parked. Beyond that is a building and on the ground, up against it, is an oblong box which contains a petrol engine, the mine's power generator. Its low sound is a a chugging drone, a whumble? Its noise is continuous and hardly ever enters anyone's conciousness because it is muffled and unobtrusive, just ticking over, pushing its load, not bothering anyone unless it stops. Like me. A drone. I don't feel overly taxed right now; I don't want anything. This is where the earth breaths, I guess. A heat bank. It grows darker until the sky is black and the stars are all out. I'd like to get a better look at them. I lie down and carefully place beer bottle number six on the ground, lowering it slowly, holding its neck between my thumb and forefinger. Only a little farther.. I feel it touch the ground. I pause and then let it go and it doesn't fall over as I look up at the Milky Way.

TRUCKS

Our trucks were mid-sized International Harvest trucks which had been specially modified to carry a single skip back and forth from the site to the piles of talc already waiting on the raised platform a mile away.

From two hydraulically powered arms at the rear hung two very heavy chains, each enclosed in a heavy plastic tube, each bearing a hook which was fitted onto the end of the skip before operating the hydraulics to lift the skip off the ground and on to the rear platform of the truck. It could, under the right circumstances, swing off the truck.

Rod was going too fast up the ramp that led onto the platform. Because of the weight on the rear platform and because the truck's front counterweight was missing its front wheels kept travelling upwards, sailing up off the ground, maintaining the trajectory set by the ramp. As the rear wheels climbed the ramp, the front wheels rose higher. Then the skip slipped off the rear platform and swung on its cables as the rear wheels reached the platfrom. The skip won the tussle and planted itself in the dirt as the engine stalled.

The cab was fifteen feet in the air. It was forty-five degrees celcius outside the cab and without any breeze it would get much hotter inside. Rod understood that most of the trucks had a large lead counterweight hanging from their heavy front bull bars to stop the front wheels lifting off the ground. Now, sweating and hanging on to the thin Bakelite steering wheel, trying not to move too much, he understood how dangerous that could be.

Not that he was in any danger. The geometry of the arrangement was satisfactory as long as he stayed put. This was not difficult for him. He had had plenty of practice parking himself in the one spot for hours on end, to the frustration of his mother.

Ironically, it was an engineering problem, how to get him down. Ironic because he would go on to become an engineer, though he chose to be a civil engineer and this was more of a mechanical engineering problem.

PAYDAY

Jack led the way. The three of us filed out of the side door of the kitchen into a small courtyard where square concrete paving stones had been laid carelessly. In the centre of the courtyard stood an empty Hill's hoist clothesline which seemed to have no purpose being there. From the courtyard we went into the the manager's office. It was dim inside at first, mainly illuminated by a shaft of sunlight coming in behind us. A pulled-down roller blind over a window opposite held a glow from outside which softened the shadows and sillouetted several flattened insects also held by the blind. There was a wooden swivel chair standing behind the office desk. It was the only chair in the office. None of us sat down. Jack moved it away and leaned forward and pulled open a draw. He began fossicking in it, which I found irritating. He was leaning forward with his left hand on the desk blotter which was covered in doodles. There was a bride and groom atop a wedding cake, various battlements and wizards and goblins reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, all skillfully drawn and accessorised with a mace and assorted cudgels, each one nicely wood-grained; lastly, and incomplete, was a more recent sketch of what looked like an alien spacecraft, minus the aliens, who I assumed had all been bludgeoned to death.

The smell of dust in the office was overpowered by an instantly recognisable smell emanating from a dozen unopened boxes of napthalene flakes which were lined up neatly on top of a bank of metal filing-cabinets. In a corner of the office stood a short wooden cupboard, its door closed and fastened with a slovenly piece of security in the form of a small unlocked padlock dangling from a small clasp which itself dangled from the cupboard. A filthy lace doily, almost black from dust, protected the top of the cupboard from the heavy and ornate brass base of a large hookah. Beside that was small red cardboard box which had been inserted into its own lid and which contained a row of shotgun cartridges. It was the dusty, dingy haven of a middle manager who'd lost his mind.

Jack had two envelopes in his hand. He looked at us and handed them over. "Thanks" I said, and smiled at him. He didn't tell me to get stuffed, which was unusual. He sat down in the swivel chair and while we fiddled he swivelled his backside back and forth while absent-mindedly fingered the top of the long-neck bottle of beer he always carried, and he didn't swig on it. It was strange behaviour from a man who probably had been something in his day. His eyes bulged now and their whites had yellowed but the cunning light inside them hadn't dimmed. His nose had grown longer and was crooked and his ears larger, his skin was brown and dry and poc-marked in places. His face was now rough terrain, matched by a deep gravelly voice which could sharpen. Jack would have fancied his reflection years ago, with the jaw, the straight black Brylcreamed hair, a good set of teeth and a big smile, "Could-a-been a movie star he would have boasted", except he wouldn't bother to look sincere. Children would recognise him instantly from the story of the crooked man. Except Jack was even crookeder, down to the bone.

I looked twice at the pay slip: "Jack, err..what's going on? That is, I'm just a bit..I'm just trying to understand the pay. There's only $750."

He nodded without smiling. "That's correct..look, it works like this. You two are one half of a four-man team. All the money you two earned during your time here is divided equally between the four of you."

I tried hard not to sound gob-smacked.

"Who are the others?"

"I can't give that information because it's private personal information that the other two wouldn't be happy about me giving. Especially as they don't know you. You understand."

That last sentence was rhetorical, I understood that.

His eyes now glazed behind droopy lids, he smiled lazily, and his delivery was very smooth and controlled - velvet. In his mind he was handling us.

"Jack, if we knew them we wouldn't be asking. And where are they?" I said.

"Probably in Adelaide but I wouldn't know for certain. They'll tell us no doubt when they get back."

"Are they on leave?"

"Yeah, they're on leave."

"For how long?"

"Quite long, is leave. You know how hard it is here, takes quite a long time to recover."

"When are they due back?"

"I'd have to look that up..and the books are in Adelaide, at Steetley's head office."

He was beginning to get shirty. He didn't go in for long rallies, about three exchanges was all his charm was good for. Today, for us, he'd made an exception, he'd been patient but was beginning to get exasperated.

"But what about our share? I mean, when will we get the other half?

"When you're on leave and they're back here working, obviously."

""But we're leaving today, right now. We're not taking any leave."

He stood up for what his hands, eyes, mouth and voice all indicated was going to be the last word: "That's your choice, obviously..look, it's pretty clear how it works..I've just explained it to both of you. It just seems the fairest system..lets blokes take a good long break without having to worry about money, knowing their team-mates'll be working to keep their end up so to speak. I see no reason for you two to worry, and anyway, there's nothing you can do about it, and your lift'll be off shortly."

$750 each. Half of what we'd earned. Shafted by an English company who supplied talc for babies' bottoms.

DEPARTURE

The mine's main building comprised a large mess hall, a reasonable kitchen, and a coolroom full of beer. The living quarters consisted of one long stone building which was no more than a shabby series of cells without bars. Between these two structures was a wide space where several dirt roads and tracks coalesced, in the middle of which was our ride out, a twenty-two tonne International Harvest truck carrying another twenty-two tonnes of talc rock. We sat inside its boxy cab, waiting in silence while it chugged, idling. We were still in a state of shock, and too afraid to speak to each other or even make a sound lest we inadvertently set in train a sequence of events that culminated in us not departing. It was eighty miles to the rail head. It was usually a boring drive through thirsty terrain of dried creekbeds and gentle hills upon which existed rocks, gravel, scrubby grasses, and low bushes in roughly equal proportions. A doubt about the passability of the road had surfaced. It filtered through the camp grapevine and was mentioned to us casually by Ben, who said don't worry too much: I wanted to vomit. It had been raining and things out there can change after it's been raining. It turned out that it wasn't so much the road as the ferryman we had to worry about.

Our driver was a patient man, he said. "Gotta be." he said. We believed him, not that we had any choice.

After the customary grinding of gears the big man in the driver's seat released the clutch and pressed his right foot down on the accelerator pedal. We were rolling, on our way out. It felt like climbing out of a deep hole, like what Alice must've felt when she climbed out of the rabbit hole and knew that very soon she'd be reunited with her cat, Dinah. Not that I remember her climbing out of a hole; even if she did, it was nothing like our hole.

"Betcha sad to be leavin', boys." Our ferryman liked to talk.

"Nah, not that sad." I said, not wanting to go along with his joke in case he wasn't really joking and took my denial seriously and offered to let me stay.

"Make lots a money did ya?"

"Oh, you know, the usual amount" I said, doing my best to keep the irony extra-light.

"What'll yer spend it on?" He didn't wait for a reply. "Maybe you'll blow it all in Adelaide, on taxis, while havin' a good time, if you know what I mean. That's the way mine always goes ya know. Bloody taxis..can you believe it..not on women or grog..at least not most of it..taxis. It gets me, really."

"I wouldn't have known" I said

"Oh yeah, you can believe it, it all adds up see, cause ya wanna go places, and ya don't wanna drive yourself around..what sort of relaxation would that be, for a truck driver?"

"I'm not sure." I said.

"No, as I said, it wouldn't be relaxin' at all. No, Taxis. It's the only way. It's worth it though. The main thing is notta think about it..then it's OK..otherwise it really gets ya."

Even though my brain was about as numb as it could get, I surmised he was telling the truth as it dawned upon me that his banter had a familiar ring, a familiar thrust, which I had heard before.

Normally he wouldn't have anyone to talk to. He would spend long hours driving miles and miles by himself. He didn't even have a radio; and if he did he'd probably sound like a DJ.

I had heard about this sort of thing. I vaguely remembering it in connection with Patty Hearst, being held hostage for so long you start to sound and act just like a taxi driver, or something along those lines.

"I know of some places you could go."

"Huh?"

"I know some places..in Adelaide, where you can spend all that loot..Can I betcha something boys?"

"Sure.no..um, look Heinz, we probably won't go to Adelaide, and we probably won't be going back to the mine,..not in the short term anyway."

"You'll need to find the money somewhere, to pay for .."

"The taxis..yeah, sure.."

"No I mean it..think about it carefully boys..it's a great job, as far as I can tell."

"It's not that we don't like the work Heinz..look, we've both got other plans..we're both goin ta uni Heinz. Roger's doin engineering and I'm gunna do medicine."

This news seemed to have an effect on Heinz, who pushed his lips out and nodded and kept looking sideways at me while he drove, not saying anything. I felt a little squawmish, worried I'd upset him, either that or I had motion sickness.

"Can I ask ya something?" he said.

"If you're havin' a piss, and it's like split, does that mean you have the clap?"

"I haven't had the clap, Heinz."

"Yeah, but bein a medical doctor .."

"Heinz, I haven't done it yet. I've just gotten into medicine, so I won't know about that stuff."

"But you reckon it's nuthin' ta worry about right?"

Probably others would have the same tendency as me to visualize what we're being told about. I didn't want the image of two streams of urine coming out of the end of Heinz's penis to pop into my mind, especially as it had to be first with the foreskin on and then with it off, and then the image of him doing it.

I was wedged up against him, and it got pretty stuffy in there, especially in the middle seat.

He needed to see a doctor but someone else would have to tell him. I had to get home. I couldn't have him getting overwrought over whatever disease he had.

"Nuthin' ta worry about Heinz, as far as I know."

"As far as you know?"

"I am absolutely one hundred percent sure you have absolutely not a single thing to worry about Heinz."

"You said absolutely twice. Does that mean you're not sure?"

"One doesn't cancel out the other Heinz"

"You sure?"

"Absolutely!"

"What does that mean, 'absolutely', in medicine? Is that a medical word?"

"How far to go Heinz?"

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